A Custom Walk-for-Weight-Loss Program

Walking Program - Trails and BoardwalksWinter, spring, summer or fall – it doesn’t seem to matter what the season is, there always seems to be a few pounds we’d love to lose. In the spring, there seems to be more – especially when we’re pulling out our summer wardrobe.

So let’s get walking shall we? Somewhere in your drawers you probably have a pedometer. If you don’t have a feature rich one like my favorites (below and at right) then you’ve at least got an application on your phone or MP3 player that will do for now. However, how do you plan a custom program to drop the pounds while walking?

I’m hoping this article will get you started.

Although walking will help you with weight loss to get the most out of it you’ll want to walk long enough to burn calories, tighten muscles and increase your metabolism.

To begin focus on steps taken (distance) before you focus on aerobic or heart rate (speed). You want to ease yourself back into fitness and not burn out before re-establishing good habits, routine and form.

And don’t worry about not getting enough effect for the time you’re investing early on in your program. You can burn nearly the same amount of calories with a long, slow walk as you can with a short, fast walk. It is all about consistency of the day at any stage of your program. For instance, there will be some days that you want to take a long and leisurely walk (think Saturday mornings on the beach boardwalk). While on other days you may want to power walk, burn up a lot of energy and calories, and really get your heart pumping and your metabolism in full swing (think of early morning walks before an intense staff meeting at the office).

The intensity or lack of isn’t really what matters when you’re just starting out as long as you are happy and comfortable and consistently getting out there. Make a minimum of 5 days a week, 30 to 60 minutes per day, your focus and let your energy level determine intensity of the day.

A word or two about the ‘stroll’. For maximum health, weight and cardiovascular benefits, you will want to make sure that you are walking quickly enough to increase your heart rate for the majority of the walk, so when I say ‘stroll’ I really mean something just a little under a power walk. The experts will tell you that for weight loss you should be walking 30 to 60 minutes at 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate once your fitness level demands it.

Once you have established a routine of 5 days per week you might want to increase your pace, change your route, add some ankle or wrist weights, or change your walking style (see my previous article for walking ‘tricks’ to keep you motivated).

A Walking Program With Man’s (and Women’s too) Best Friend

Walking With Dogs
Start with a simple walk and work up to excellent health.

Don’t wait for your pedometer to arrive in the mail, start a walking program today. It will warm you up to more brisk walks once your pedometer has arrived and it is one of the safest exercises you can do for your heart – not to mention lessen the risks of breast cancer and diabetes.

If you have a dog a daily walk or two is a great way to warm both of you up to more brisk and beneficial walking next week. Plus, you’re doing something wonderful with your pet as they need exercise too.

Even if your dog is a little lazy and overweight I’m willing to bet that by the time you strap on your pedometer and get set for a faster pace walk your dog will already be showing the signs of health. I’ve seen it first hand. A friend of mine had an aging and overweight dog that she loved dearly. She had no trouble going out the door with me the first few times but by the second week of daily walks she was dragging her paws. On the third week of walking she was excited again as the exercise had already made some positive changes to her weight, her endurance and her breathing. Funny how they can be so much like the humans who love them.

Whenever I take an overweight dog for the first week of daily walks we take it easy. At the start of week two I begin to step it up – probably why they decide they don’t want to go for walks at first! But by the third week as they realize they are feeling better, their metabolic rate has increased and the brisk walk isn’t such a huge challenge – I can often get them into a light jog.

Some important considerations to take for both you and your dog are to ensure the leash is long enough that you aren’t bent over while walking the dog, but not too long that your dog can get tied up in your feet. If your pet has not been trained to heel the first week of casual walking is a good match for training – after that you should have made a great walking companion. By the time you move into your third week you’ll be able to bend your arms at the elbow and pump yourself along for a cardiovascular boost.

Here are a few of my other walking ‘tricks’:

  1. Flex! Flex your stomach muscles while walking a few seconds at a time. You’re toning your abs while you walk.
  2. Flex! (again) Your buttock muscles as you walk. Every step you take should be a conscious movement from the ball of your foot to the top of your waist. With practice you’ll feel the flex and in no time at all you’ll have the shapely butt of an athlete.
  3. Work your thigh muscles! Plan at least one walk a week that includes a steep hill or a large flight of stairs. Going up and going down both will do your thighs good.
  4. Stay motivated! Don’t let yourself get bored of walking the same block, the same city street, the same route every night. Once you’ve been walking with a pedometer for exercise for a while it is so easy to get bored. Drive to the park, take your MP3 player with you, walk backwards for part of the route, walk home from work or park a mile away, and take walking vacations. More on those on a later post, but suffice it to say you will love some of the fabulous places I’ve visited as part of a walking tour and am ready to share with you now.
  5. Spoil yourself with good gear! Get the best pedometer you can afford and learn how to use all the functions. Fitness now becomes a part of your daily life and you’ll live longer for it. Subscribe to a walking or fitness magazine and buy well-fitting, athletic footwear.
  6. Drink! Stay hydrated. Bring along a water bottle.

More Walking Program Articles can be found here on Pedometers.org!

Walking My Way to Good Health

Walking To Health and Weight LossWith the rise of commentaries in the news and on documentaries about the high levels of obesity in North America it is no wonder people are getting out more, eating less, and taking conscious steps to control their weight.

Walking is an excellent first step on your way to better health. How can I be sure? Because conscious walking (with a pedometer tracking my every step) I lost the pregnancy weight and put myself into the best shape I’d ever been in at 30 years of age. I also walked off two years of depression (and the associated eating that comes with that illness) induced weight gain (to the tune of 45 pounds) in my mid-40s.

At neither time in my life did I feel like exercising – heck I didn’t even want to walk to the store if I could help it – but I forced myself for the first 2 weeks and after that I had a new healthy habit that I didn’t want to ever give up.

Honestly, it helps to have a pedometer to get and stay motivated. Not only will it chart your progress and push you onto new personal ‘bests’ but it feels like a treat. Somewhat like a gym membership except not as expensive, you can even ‘guilt’ yourself into making good use of your new purchase. Some days that guilt worked for me and some days it didn’t but I still love and use my pedometers today – one is very basic and over 12 years old, the other is an MP3 model purchased just 6 months ago.

So what happens while you are walking your way to health and how can an exercise so simple accomplish so much?

Well, when we walk, we are working muscles and joints. As muscles tone they burn more of the calories we put into our bodies and therefore less fat is stored. Less fat on your body is healthier all round.

Your joints on the other hand require flexibility. If they don’t have this flexibility, pain and inflammation are the result. Exercise that uses and strenthens your joints helps to prevent arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, gout and more.

More health benefits? Walking also reduces the risks of heart attack, strokes and diabetes.

Creating New Habits Around Exercise

Walk While You Shop - Take A Stroll Any WhereThere isn’t one person in my circle of friends who doesn’t ache to lose a few pounds at least once or twice per year. Even the skinny ones among us talk about their dieting and exercise woes. Men, women, teens, seniors, everyone wants to lose weight but we’re either too busy, too tired at the end of the day or too lacking in motivation.

If you fit in any of those categories you’ll need to know that losing weight, changing your food habits and getting more exercise is all a ‘head game’. Sure it’s hard – you need both will power and some sweat equity to decrease your mass – but with time, dedication and effort you get to live in a body you love.

The mental prowess you’ll need to keep yourself motivated is a huge part of the process. If you can use determination, the fun factor, jealousy, or any other emotion to your advantage you’ll be able to tackle the bulge and put the excuses to rest.

Remember we’re not talking about running a marathon every weekend here. You begin with small steps – a little more than your body is currently used to – and as the pounds slip away you’ll take your new love of exercise and your new strengths to tackle more challenges on your path to better health.

This is just as simple as strapping on a pedometer, gauging the amount of steps you take in an average day, and increasing that number as your first fitness goal. Walking really can help you lose the weight that you’re ready to be rid of.

Over the next few days I’ll be adding a “Walk It Off” online course for all our readers. We’ll also be investigating ways for you to keep track of your steps and your fitness goals through Pedometers.org. More about that later, for now please understand that walking will burn a sufficient amount of calories, which ensures that stored fat on your body will be used for energy.

All that is required to start is a simple pedometer and thirty minutes of energetic walking everyday. If you are very heavy right now you might like to talk to your doctor first or go a little slower for the first few weeks until you gain some strength and stamina.

Let’s get back for a moment to the mind games we play with ourselves and the excuses. Here’s the one I hear the most often. It’s boring! Yes, it can be hard to find joy, fun or entertainment in a 30 minute walk but you’ve got to find a way to do it nonetheless. Take an MP3 pedometer for a walk with you and listen to some music or recorded seminars that you’ve been dying to listen to.

You can also change where you walk. Head off to the mall and some do some walking. You can window shop on the way. Or walk with a friend or neighbor. How about heading to the park, beach boardwalk, or bike path?

Here are a few other suggestions:

A friend of mine was going to Italy in two months. He wanted to be fit when he flew over because he was tired of carrying around an extra 25 pounds so he started walking. You know what else he did? Learned some great conversational Italian on his MP3 pedometer.

If you’re lonely on your walks make a pact with a friend to walk at lunch or every night after dinner together. You can even wager a free meal or task (“…if either of us cancel our walk three times we have to clean the other friend’s house.”) Better still…your dog will never cancel out on a walk with you, so take Fido along.

Stay tuned to Pedometers.org for more information and our upcoming course on Walk It Off.

Walking Your Way Back to Health with A Pedometer

MP3 Pedometer: Walk With A Furry FriendSo you’ve decided that this is the year you’re going to get in shape and stay in shape, yes? Here at Pedometers.org we want to work with you to keep you on track with your fitness goals. We have a lot of exciting developments planned over the next year and we’d like you to be part of our online family.

Even if the pedometer you are using is an older or simple monitor you can still walk with us – virtually – and meet those fitness goals. If you don’t have a pedometer yet and you’re sticking to budget with your back-into-shape regime, grab a simple step counter and let’s get moving!

In the end you don’t really need to track every mile you walk or every calorie you burn. As long as you are in relatively good health you also won’t need to worry about your heart rate or any of the other special features that many modern pedometers offer. However, with that said, if you’re walking alone you might like to have an MP3 capable pedometer so you can listen to your favorite music, podcasts or motivational tracks while you walk. It’s a great way to work out.

There are but a few basics to getting back into shape with a pedometer. First of all – unless you have a model that supports pocket or purse tracking, you’ll want to remember to always place your pedometer on your waist or hips for precise measurement and accurate step counts. The best place is directly above your hip bone so if you’re wearing a low-riding pant you may need to clip the pedometer on the bottom of a tight fitting shirt to get an accurate reading.

Next you’ll need to find some time to walk every day. This could be a morning walk with the dog, an after dinner walk around the block or, if the weather is terrible, just walking in place during the evening news or your favorite television show. Whatever you decide to do you’ll want your first goal to be taking 10,000 steps per day to get started. If you are carrying a lot of extra weight right now you can work out a plan for yourself to build up to that over the first or second week.

I know that 10,000 steps sounds like a lot but hear me out. On average the Monday to Friday,9-5 desk employee walks just under 2000 steps a day just going about normal activity. If this is your lifestyle you really only need to find an extra 8,000 steps more per day. On another post you’ll find some easy suggestions to incorporate more steps into your day – decreasing the time needed to meet your goal by day’s end.

If you will be working your way up to 10,000 steps per day please do it slowly. In fact you might want to speak to your doctor about your plans before you begin a walking regime. We are not doctors at Pedometers.org and have no idea of your current physical condition.

If you’ll be meeting your initial goal by walking outside you’ll need a good pair of sneakers or running shoes. Again, if you’re on a tight budget you might consider purchasing a pair of orthotic insoles as inserts into an older pair of running shoes you own. You will appreciate the extra support and shock absorbing value of a good shoe or insole after your first few walks. Furthermore either will help you keep your balance and support your joints while you walk yourself fit.

So, are you ready? Great! Let’s get walking….

For the first few days we suggest wearing your pedometer all day while you go about your daily business. At the end of each day write down the number of steps you already take to see if you fit into the ‘normal’ range. Our normal or average is about 2,000 per day just walking around the office, to lunch and to the car. However you may not park as far away from the office as we do or need to hand deliver messages and letters to co-workers. The point is, everyone is different.

Keeping in mind that your first goal is to walk a total of 10,000 steps per day increase your daily average by 1,000 to 2,000 steps per day until you are consistently and easily finishing the day at your goal.

To give you an idea of what is ahead for you, 10,000 steps per day helps the average person maintain their current weight given no other changes. 15,000 gets you moving towards losing weight.

The reason we start out at 10,000 is because you’ll be building muscle tone in the beginning and muscle tone increases your metabolism making your body more efficient at burning fat and losing weight (among other benefits).

If your primary goal is to loose weight it is in the third week or so that you might want to start weighing yourself regularly and keeping an eye on your food intake for high value foods. Remember food is fuel for the body and you’ll want to cut back on all the unhealthy diet choices to aid your body into efficient operation. Keep your journal updated with your healthy choices, the number of steps taken from your pedometer each evening and your weight. Just don’t get too hung up on the actual weight reading – muscle weighs more than fat and you’ll be building muscle during this process. If you are really concerned about your weight or size purchase a fat loss monitor (see the top of the page for a link to our review) for less than $40. They are as handy and as inspirational to have as a personal use pedometer.

You’re probably wondering what happens after 10,000 or 15,000 steps per day. Once you have reached your weight or fitness goal and are ready to increase your aerobic exercise to stay fit, gain better health overall or to support your heart.

Most doctors and fitness experts will caution to not be in a rush to take it to the next level and we agree. Keep wearing your pedometer and taking your 10,000 or 15,000 steps daily for at least another 4 months. It has been researched that it will take an average of six months for any activity to become a habit. You want this daily activity to be one of your new habits so that you can enjoy a lifetime of health so keep at it for another four months or so before moving onto a new regime or activity.

Pedometers for Sale

If you’ve been reading my articles for some time you’re probably wondering where to find pedometers for sale, but before you run out (or should I say ‘walk’ to the nearest store) to buy one, please review the current features and decide which pedometer is best for you, serves your fitness goals, and fits your budget.

I’ll do my best to help you in this article. (Below I’ve added some of the highest reviewed units on Amazon for you – where thousands are sold and reviewed every month.)

If you’ve just started walking 10,000 steps per day you may only want the most basic device with an eye on a more advanced model once you reach your initial fitness goal.

There are three basic models of pedometers for sale, (walking, jogging, running), but a lot of features to choose from. Added to your choices is that although they seem simple in their core function not all of them work as well as they are said to. Since fitness related products are big business a lot of new pedometers (some of them from start-up companies with no prior experience in manufacturing these devices) have entered the marketplace in the last 10 years.

I would hate it if you set your goals, purchased a pedometer to track and record your daily commitment and progress and then found it didn’t work or stopped working after just a few months. Early on it is easy to find excuses to give up and a broken pedometer is just such an excuse so let’s get you a good one that works and is easy and fun to operate. It will inspire you to keep walking. It did for me, anyway.

The Basics: A pedometer is a small gadget that you attach to your body and tracks your progress while you walk, jog or run. They are light and compact and now come loaded with tools, programs and features to make fitness more enjoyable.

Some of the pedometers for sale today track:

  • Calories burnt
  • Current, average, and/or maximum distance traveled
  • Time spent exercising or walking
  • Heart rate
  • USB connection (to upload to your progress to your home computer and, with included software, track your progress)
  • Music Pacer (changes your MP3 playlist based on your current pace)
  • Alarm Clock
  • FM receiver
  • Auto daily reset

These features and others will vary depending on the type of pedometer you purchase. Your first decision then, will be whether you want a step counter, GPS, or talking pedometer. Don’t worry about the features costing you a lot of money as you can find great pedometers for sale with your preferred features for under $50 in most cases. Over the next few days I will put up my favorite models based on your current fitness levels and your wish list of features that other people have also reviewed to be excellent models.

If you can’t wait the Omron (at right) is an excellent all round model. Basically any model that is accurate and allows you to count steps will keep you motivated, help you to increase the amount of daily exercise, increase your metabolic rate and live a longer, healthier, life.

Features of Pedometers

Two different Omron pedometers.You won’t believe all the tricks today’s pedometer can pull off with the click of a few buttons.

Yes, it’s going to count your steps, but it will also record them – from day to day, month to month, so you can chart your progress.

The word ‘pedometer’ translates from Latin to a literal ‘distance counter’. Thomas Jefferson was proported to use a pedometer in all of his activities and it is also said that Leonardo da Vinci invented one of the very first models. Impressive roots and still being used today by tens of thousands of people around the world.

Today when we speak of a pedometer we generally mean a step counter. The term has become universal. It is important to note however that while some of these small and popular devices do count steps others work by measuring distance that has been travelled. One of the most exciting and recent accomplishments of a distance pedometer is the inclusion to working with Google Maps. Exciting as it may be, the distance counter styles may not be your best choice for fitness purposes.

For fitness purposes – especially if you are walking for fitness – you’ll want a step counter. These gadgets work best through their utilization of a pendulum mechanism that moves up and down as you take a step. Although pedometers may vary in sensitivity and quality most of them give a pretty accurate reading.

What else can a pedometer do? It all depends on the features you choose. Find one that plays music, tracks caloric burn, functions as a stop watch, connects to your home or work computer and via software tracks your progress and suggests new workout routines or walking routes to take to increase your level of fitness.

Some of the higher end units have pulse meters, FM radios, user-defined pace setting function, a heart rate monitor and, coming very soon, motivational messages and music selection based on a workout’s pitch. Since no one pedometer has been created to perform all these functions in one tiny gadget you’ll want to first decide which features are most important to you – then you’ll need to decide how much you have in your budget.

Don’t worry though they aren’t all that expensive. In fact the newest, most high tech pedometer to hit the market in years will be selling for just a little over $100 next month but if you just want a full-featured, highly regarded, accurate pedometer without the music check out our favorite in the sidebar at right. This Omron HJ-112 is a digital pocket pedometer currently selling at less than $25. This unit has held its place in the marketplace as being the #1 best selling pedometer since 2004 (2005). A close second costs a few dollars more (under $35) and made by the same company. Check out the Omron HJ-720ITC.

If there is some feature you’d like to see or buy in a pedometer but can’t find any information here on the topic please use the contact form below. We will help you fnd it!

A Pedometer That’s Right for You

How to choose the right pedometer - best for you.
Choosing the best pedometer can be as difficult as selecting which path to take...

You already know that you want a pedometer you just don’t know which one is right for your needs. With thousands of styles and nearly as many options making the right decision on a pedometer that you’ll be happy with for years starts to look like a daunting, day long, research task.

This article should help you narrow down your choices based on features and your personality type. Since a number of options are now available in these fitness tools at the best prices we’ve seen in years, you should be able to find the perfect one for you, at the best price, as simple or complex as you need it. Remember that a pedometer is a great motivator – if you love the one you own you’ll be more apt to wear it, set personal fitness goals with it, and get into the shape you deserve.

You will walk more or at the very least be more apt to take more steps throughout the day while wearing a pedometer. Even more so if you really like your pedometer, the features, the design. Taking those extra steps is the difference between losing weight and just staying where you are – or worse, steadily gaining weight as our metabolisms slow down with age. Your pedometer is like your conscience, it will motivate you to take the stairs instead of the elevator, to walk down the hall instead of making that phone call, or to walk the dog instead of just opening the back the door and letting him out into the yard.

So let’s start by organizing the pedometers by personality. The May/June 2006 issue of Weight Watchers Magazine was one of the first to classify pedometers this way and it has helped a lot of people over the years to choose the pedometer that was just right for them.

Four years later, we’re at it again on Pedometers.org…

We’ll start with the basic six and add more based on your comments (leave a comment below if you feel the list lacks your personality type in any way).

  • Pedometers for Music-loving Walkers
  • Pedometers for Overweight Walkers
  • Pedometers for Cardio-conscious Walkers
  • Pedometers for Cross-trainers and Advanced Walkers
  • Pedometers for Walkers on a Budget
  • Pedometers for Techie Walkers

Pedometers for Music-Loving Walkers

Over the years there have been many pedometers released by just as many companies and very few have been successfully received by the new walking-for-fitness or the more experienced walking-fit. In fact for those who prefer to have music in their ears rather than city noise or the buzz of mosquitoes, the IPOD nano (which – 5th Generation – also doubles as a Pedometer) is likely your best choice. The pedometer bundled within the Nano uses the built-in accelerometer to keep track of your steps. Set a daily step goal or leave it on all the time so that it counts every step you take.

For the walking-fit group you can beef up your running and gym exercise controls with add-ons such as: Rock and Run – strap on your Nike shoes and they’ll ‘talk’ to your IPOD Nano pedometer. You can keep an eye on minutes ran, miles covered, and get real-time voice feedback to your workouts. Rock the Gym is a similar feature for fitness enthusiasts who work out at a gym. The iPod nano plus a Nike / iPod compatible cardio machine records pace, time, and distance you’ve worked out at every session.

Finally…when you return home you simply connect your Nano to your MAC or PC and iTunes will automatically send your workout data to the Nike Server -stored securely for as long as you want. Nike will also recommended new fitness challenges for you based on your current level, create custom training programs for you and suggest maps of new routes to try. A social networking feature is also prevalent on the site so you can meet and be inspired by people of like minds worldwide.

Check Pedometers.org Reviews for Pedometer MP3 Players

Pedometers for Overweight Walkers

…coming soon…

The Best Pedometer for Techie Walkers

Top 5 Pedometer Reviews for Cardio-Conscious Walkers

Best Pedometer for Cross-Trainers and Advanced Walkers

Pedometers for Budget-Conscious Walkers

MP3 Capable Pedometer Review

Philips Activa Workout Monitoring MP3 Player (Act101m/17) – NEW for 2010! I’m really excited about this new-to-the-scene pedometer. Featuring ‘TempoMusic’ which is an automatic analysis of user aerobic intensity to find and match songs on the play list. Keeps you motivated during a workout by shouting feedback and offering encouragement of workout progress while selecting appropriate music to match workout intensity. Track your progress with included software on your PC or MAC (USB).

This popular pedometer has been out of stock regularly but a new shipment is in and the price couldn’t be better. MP3 Pedometer – less than $40.

Oregon Scientific PE829 Talking Pedometer with FM Radio – seemed the most promising when considering the list of features for Music Loving Walkers, but falls short with it’s users. Most common complaints are the difficulty in setup, poorly written instruction manual, and a short battery life.

Omron HJ-720ITC Pocket Pedometer with Advanced Omron Health Management Software -Top rated since 2007 (USB)

Highgear Fitware FM Radio Pedometer with Watch, Alarm, and Chronograph – Cheap, without a tuner for the radio, inaccurate, discontinued model. 1.5

Highgear Fitware Pedometer – with Heart Rate monitor but not terribly accurate. Somewhat technical to set up and operate. 3.5

Haier ibiza Rhapsody HHH1A-2G Trainer Sport MP3 Player with Pedometer and Heart-Rate Monitor – Heart rate monitor is not ‘hands free’ – not great for spinning, cycling, etc. Small buttons, instruction manual could use improvement, sound quality not great. 3.0

Sportline 375 MP3 Pedometer + FM Radio – No song title display and FM reception is lacking. (USB) Moderately tricky to set up.

Haier ibiza Rhapsody HHS1A-2G Sport MP3 Player with Pedometer – Waterproof, dim screen, random playlist shuffle. 3.0

GSI All-in-One Sport Pedometer/MP3 Player – Counts steps, distance travelled, calories burned. (USB) UNRATED

RCA S2501 Jet Stream Series 1GB Sport MP3 Player with Wireless Headphones – Well loved unit that is currently discontinued. Very few complaints from owners on this one – most of them centered around the headset chargers. Good sound, full color display. 4.0

RCA Jet 4 GB Sports MP3 Player with Video, Music, FM Radio, and Sports Features – discontinued. Technically buggy. Average user rating: 2.5

RCA Jet 1 GB – no pedometer but it does record lap times, running times and gives BMI. Remaining units are deeply discounted likely due to the low user ratings of 2.5 -2.0